AS we had not gone to any country shows this year, and the weather was not suitable for much else in the way of outside work, John finally relented and told me to get my glad rags on and get the picnic basket filled up.

The welcome offered by every trade stand to old customers and, hopefully, new, highlighted the fact that these country shows are not merely occasions for frivolity, but also occasions when hard bargains can be struck.

The theory being that if a salesman can get enough free alcoholic drinks down a farmers’ throat, a deal might be struck on one of those exorbitantly priced tractors or piece of agri kit.

Highlights of this show were, to me, the lines of cattle, sheep and pigs and a display of fabulous horsemanship from stunt riders and horses used on films and current television shows.

But my favourite event was one to judge a ring of pedigree pigs with their handlers. Now to show a pig, or even any pedigree animal, many conditions have to be met before you even step into the ring.

In the case of a pig, it is essential it meets breed standards, demonstrating among other things the correct size, coat, markings, confirmation and, placement and underline of the teats. Then you, the handler, should look just as good as your pimped up pig. Best form is to be clad in a smart white overall and carry a pig board and pig stick.

The point of the board and stick is to be able to block the pig’s field of vision with the board and use the stick to move it forward. Not to clobber the pig if it does not do as you want. Which it probably won’t, as one young, enthusiastic pig handler with an equally young and enthusiastic pig, found out to his, and the other pigs and their handlers in the ring, cost.

Weaving their way round and across the ring, backwards and forwards between all the other contestants, pig and handler caused havoc. Not that we as spectators minded, although I did wince for the other contestants once or twice as the young handler and his pig scattered other pigs and handlers to every corner of the ring.

To no avail however. He and his pig were not placed, and the last I saw of him was throwing a bit of a tantrum, plus his stick, to the ground. I, and the crowd, would have given them that first place plus the biggest rosette possible for sheer entertainment value and effort. Well done young stockman.